This REALLY is the last one this side of Christmas as I have to whizz off to Saxony for a while Beachcomber’s Tales from the Day.
“Dangerous Roy and the Manx Norton Engine”.
We met Roy briefly in tale of the Missing Motorcyclist – here’s a little backgrounder on Roy ………………
Roy was 5 years or so younger than most of the lads in our crew, and at heart was a budding Mod. However, that was virtually impossible for him as all the surrounding bikers [ around his neighbourhood ] were Rockers [ generic ]. So he had a bit of a split loyalty – when he could get out on his own, he’d put on his Italian suit and Winkle pickers and then off to the local Palais with his Mod friends.
When it came time for him to get transport he was torn between a Vespa – and “losing” all his local pals, or a bike – which he really didn’t want! His Dad reluctantly bought him a Royal Enfield Crusader [ 250cc ] – and off wobbled Roy to try to fit in with the rest of us.
The second day on the bike he was off to work in London’s East End and even in those days rush hour traffic into and out of London’s arterial roads was hectic. Roy had yet to learn the art of weaving in and out of traffic and an accident of some sort was inevitable. Roy had to dress in a suit for his day job [ insurance clerk ] and true to his Mod roots, he’d wear his finest day time Italian suit complete with Winkle Pickers! Now the Mod style of riding was to hang the feet off the footboards of the scooter as far as possible at 45 degrees, so others could see your footwear. As Roy didn’t know which camp he really belonged to, he rode his bike in a similar fashion. You can see it coming – so Roy’s wriggling in and out of the traffic, until his foot comes into contact with a central pedestrian refuge kerb. These “refuges” were oval islands [ 6 foot x 3 foot ] in the middle of the busy City roads to allow pedestrians to bolt half way across the road, catch their breath and risk life and limb for the rest of the crossing to the other side. So, Roy’s foot came off second best and the collision spilled him down the road [ 10-15 mph ]. When he came to a rest he realised that the complete toe from his handmade Winkle Pickers had been torn off ! Not so bothered about the damage to his bike – or the broken toe!
So that sets the scene for Roy – accident prone as he was.
Anyway – the Manx ………………….
A year later and Roy was really no better a rider, and his Father was trying very hard to persuade him to get a car, even offering to pitch in some cash. So they had a deal – the next accident would be the last, after the inevitable, his Father would insist on him getting a car.
At the time I was having real problems with my 500cc International Norton [ road going Manx ], I suffered a spate of clipped intake valves [ did that affect you Hoof ? ] – and these valves were two weeks wages at the time and the exhaust valves were sodium filled- should one of them get damaged. Actually therein lies a “Mini Tale” –
the “2 International Engines, half a Manx Engine and the Isetta Bubble Car”
Anyway – a pal who lived about 2 miles away from me had a genuine 500 Manx engine for sale, and due to some various double dealing he owed me big time and I got the engine for a song. When the time came to collect ……….ahhh, none of us had a car or van. So I had a brilliant [ oh dear ] plan – get Roy to take me round there and I would sit pillion holding the engine between us! Now I should point out that Roy was only 5’ 4” and was around 100lbs - I was a lot more.
My pal was astounded when we turned up and said we’d take the engine with us on the bike – but we had no choice as his car was off the road at the time.
The road back took us past the notorious “Wantz Bends”, a series of tight double “S” bends. Under normal circumstances these bends were for the brave to take at speed ………..
After a couple of wobbling false starts we eventually got under way, and as long as we remained pretty upright – all was fine.
Then came the Wantz bends ……………….. eager to impress, Roy hurtled into the bends completely oblivious to the additional weight – AND the fact that I had no way of hanging on. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion after that, after the bike reached about 30 degrees I realised that we had reached the point of no return and started looking for somewhere safe to put my valued Manx engine. Yep, Roy was a nice soft place to cushion the impact for the Manx…so there’s Roy sliding down the road with me sliding alongside – holding the Manx engine firmly on his back. We eventually came to a stop, with much moaning and groaning coming from Roy – naturally, I went to check the condition of the engine – phew, no damage, so I carefully lifted it off Roy and put it to one side.
Then I turned my attentions to Roy who really didn’t look too good and in fact passed out in pain. A passing motorist stopped and said he would call an ambulance [ no cell phones then! ], but didn’t want to move Roy in case anything was broken. I persuaded the guy to drop me [ and the Manx engine! ] at my house which was only a half mile away where I could use the phone to call the Ambulance.
I got on my spare bike [ 500cc BSA B33 – waiting to become a Tribsa ] and headed back to the scene. When I arrived the Police and his Father were there – but no Roy. The ambulance had already been and carted him off to hospital where he was diagnosed with broken ribs and a punctured lung! You’ll be glad to know that the Manx engine was fine though.
Roy’s Dad was absolutely furious [ he didn’t know about the Manx engine ! ] that Roy had this time had a fairly serious accident – and gave me the Crusader on the spot, saying Roy would never ride a bike again.
I went to the hospital [ after we got the Crusader home ! ] to check on Roy, who had been very lucky and went on to make a full recovery – he even laughed about the incident years later when we met up.
A week later Roy came out of hospital – the Manx was installed in my chassis, and there was a shiny Ford Mk2 Convertible Consul waiting for Roy.
He was far less prone to accidents carwise, but never got on a bike again!
That’s it for this side of Christmas, as I have to make a flying visit to my place in Saxony and won’t have time to finish any of the other tales.
As we’re into the busy arterial roads of London – maybe the “Open Air Reliant Robin Van” should be next, as the tale took place on those same busy London streets..